It's not a zip code.
It's not the number of strikeouts Nolan Ryan got in his career. (Not even close. Come on, guys.) It's less than the total numbers of batters he faced, though. That's 22,575.
It's not how much money I have in the bank. Don't I wish, though. Think of all the cards I could buy.
According to Baseball Almanac, it's the total number of players to ever see action in the major leagues. That would include the senior circuit, dating back to 1876, the AL, all the defunct leagues from the 19th century, and the Federal League of 1914-15.
The list starts at David Aardsma. He got his start in 2004 with the Giants, jumping around a bit from team to team over the last decade-plus. He's also pitched in the majors for the Cubs, White Sox, Red Sox, Mariners, Yankees, Mets, and Braves. He was a part of the Marlins organization for about a month in 2013, too. He last played an MLB game in 2015.
Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports Image SourceThe bottom of the list is Tony Zych. Another pitcher, Zych debuted in 2015 with the Mariners and is still active.
And between the two of them are another 18,717 players.
What does this mean to me? Well, an idea I've been bumping around in my head has been a truly "complete" set. After totaling up the numbers, I've decided to start yet another collection.
Yeah, that's right. 18,719 and counting. It looks like about 250 players debut each year these days, compared to about half as many for most of MLB's history. That's good news for me - modern players are more likely to have cards somewhere - Bowman, Topps, Panini.
I already know there will probably be at least 1000 of those 19,000 with no cards at all. That number could end up being much higher. That's okay. From the Awards project I know lots of players who have hit for the cycle or pitched no-hitters don't have any cardboard, with many others only appearing on old tobacco cards.
I dub it the Archive Collection.
Sometime before Opening Day, I hope to have assembled and formatted a full list. That's not such a hard thing to do thanks to Baseball Almanac. And I'll get a decent start with the singles I have right now - cards I've been accumulating from various purchases and Kenny's zapping a couple months ago. And like my Live Game project, this collection will basically remain on hold until I go back home and get through all of my extra cards to fill in with what I already have.
So, while this is a new collection for me to chase, it won't really get moving for quite some time.